Every single concert I've ever been to in my adult, trap-or-die-music-loving life has had a profanity laden DJ set that's gone a little something like this:
"Where my fellas at in this mufucka?"
"Now where all my independent ladies at in this bitch?"
"Ladies, if you know you don't need a man for nothing make some noise!"
"If you got a good paying job with benefits and keep your hair and nails done say owwww"
"If you got your own house, own car, make over $60,000 a year, and the only time you need a man is for some good dick let me hear you scream!"
So are we just assuming most men have some sort of combination of all of the above so there's no need to draw attention? Or do DJs not even bother asking said questions of men because we know the response from the crowd would be so quiet you could hear a mouse pee on a cotton ball? (I stole that by the way)
I was recently having one of those "What are you looking for?" conversations with a guy I just met and I'm not gonna lie, I stumbled a bit. Sometimes I feel like the exercise of saying what I want in a man is as pointless as writing letters to Santa Claus, 'cuz ain't no Santa Claus bih! But I realized I'd already laid on the "you probably ain't shit anyway, I don't even know why I'm engaging you" hurt woman routine kinda thick so I needed to indulge --and be honest instead of ending up disappointed someone doesn't meet expectations they don't even know have been set for them.
So, after sharing my customary list of personality traits like laid back, supportive, present, and so on, the word independent just rolled off my tongue. And then all the strong Black woman came out of me as I let him know in a moment many would likely deem #toosoon, I don't believe in building with a man. Specifically, I said something along these lines:
"I want a man who's independent, self-sufficient, works, can take care of himself, and doesn't want to be with a woman just so she can take care of him."
And just in case my anti-cater-to-you stance wasn't clear enough, I very explicitly added:
"I don't believe in that whole idea of building with a man that everyone talks about these days. Yes, we can and should build together as a couple, but we should also both be starting from a similar baseline -- especially at this age. We're in our 30s. If you haven't been doing anything for yourself all this time, what do I look like building with you? And (furthermore, with hypothetical finger in the air) nobody tells men to build with a woman or wait and see if she fulfills her potential. Men get with women based on what they see in front of them. It shouldn't be any different for women."
Just kidding. The guy was actually still on the phone and, surprisingly, agreeing with everything I said, even though I really didn't mean to say it -- at least not so soon anyway. But after the conversation I was actually proud of myself. I think there's a saying about not getting what you want if you don't speak up, and that phrase could pretty much sum up my dating life. But the truth is I should feel OK saying I want an independent man; it's society -or Webbie and collective hip-hop culture -- that's put all the emphasis on independent women while men are just out here being told to be "real men" with no concept of what that means besides a whole lot of unearned bravado.
I'm a firm believer every man should have some things for himself before he starts handing over paychecks to his wife and sharing a home with four kids, and working late nights to put food in everyone's mouths, and having his ambition misconstrued for selfishness, and the sacrifices he makes as a provider overlooked. Men deserve to enjoy the fruits of their own labor too and shouldn't need a woman -- mama, girlfriend, or otherwise --to survive, not only because that shit ain't cute, but because they miss out on the indescribable feeling of pride that comes from truly being a self-made man (or woman). From knowing you have a roof over your head because you pay rent; you're driving a car because you bought it; you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day because you make it with the money you earn to buy groceries from the career you've built for yourself.
I want a man who knows how that feels because that means my professional wins won't encroach on his ego (he has his own successes); his world won't crumble when I can't be home in time to make dinner (he's been cooking for himself for 10 years); and, most important, I'll never have to hear him utter that ambiguous, bullshit, red flag phrase, "I want to build with you."